Dear Mr. Gold:
We went to Green Village on Valley Boulevard today only to discover that it was padlocked, with an eviction notice on the door. Is there another Shanghai place anywhere near as good? And where can we get those amazing fish beignets?
Although San Gabriel still has great Chinese places, like 101 Noodle Express and Chung King, I pine for Tung Lai Shun (which I thought was better than its sister restaurants in Beijing), Quanjude Duck House, Chu’s Mandarin and G.C. River.
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Dear Mr. S.:
The San Gabriel scene, originally seeded by flight capital in the 1990s, has definitely changed over the past several years, as the demand for glitzy Chinese restaurants slackened a bit and the restaurant boom in China itself siphoned off a lot of the chefs. Most of the places that have opened lately have tended to be modest regional restaurants specializing in the cooking of northern China — not bad, but also not Quanjude.
Green Village, which may have been the best of the Shanghainese restaurants, has had a habit of disappearing and popping up again, each time with the menu largely unchanged. I’ve been to at least four Green Villages in San Gabriel and Rowland Heights, and I hope that I will soon have the opportunity to visit again. But until then, Mei Long Village, right across the street, is a little more rustic but is still quite good, especially for pastries, braised fish tail, vegetarian preparations and the ever-popular pork pump. (There is a lot of controversy on the topic, but I still think Mei Long Village serves the best soup dumplings in town.) Giang Nan, in a mini-mall off Garfield in Monterey Park, is another excellent Shanghai-style restaurant. And Chang’s Garden, a refined Huanzhou-style place in Arcadia, has exemplary Shanghai-esque food, including spareribs steamed in lotus leaves, fish-turnip soup and a very good version of tai tiao huang yu, the seaweed-laced fish beignets you crave. Oddly enough, Henry Chang, the owner, was the first chef at Tung Lai Shun, which served a completely different cuisine. 627 W. Duarte Rd., Arcadia, (626) 445-0707.